One half of London based duo Native Sun is bilingual rapper Mohammed Yahya, who has collaborated with Dead Prez and Saigon; while the other is fashion designer, songwriter and vocalist Sarina Leah, who is well known for her album-stealing input on producer Eric Lau’s debut New Territories.
The convergence of the two musician’s styles on their new album, Indigenous Soundwaves, results in what fans of either artist would have expected; a sonic garden of blissful beats, flowered by startling moments of wisdom from Yahya and exquisite vocals from Sarina, with a luxurious blend of African rhythms at the roots.
On the album’s opening and title track we are welcomed by poet Amen Noir, whose verse reads like a prologue on the opening pages of a novel, urging the listener to ‘let the sound wash over and bury itself in the cavern of your soul’ and ‘let it flow through your veins vassals and arteries,’ while a courageous surfeit of djembi drums provides a resplendent soundtrack.
Just as we have absorbed his lively rhetoric, an extra large portion of Hip-Hop beats served by producer Tropical Soul is jettisoned over the sound of a Mbira (finger piano) on ‘Legacy’. Along with ‘Suffer No More,’ the song is among the most memorable for its chorus – ‘Journey of this Legacy, is the roots of our history’ – which in some respects perfectly sums up the entire body of work of both the South East African Yahya and British Caribbean Sarina as a continuation and modernisation of archaic musical traditions born within Africa and the African Diaspora.
Similarly, ‘Gallery Of Dreams’ is fuelled by an energy and optimism that can only be summed up by Sarina’s lush and magnanimous voice which here intones, ‘As butterflies carrying the dreams on wings from dust to sky. Mind open wide. Sunlight reveals the light inside. Hope is near when you dream, you can touch it with your fingers, its closer than it seems’. Sublime stuff.
The only criticism I could possibly offer is that Indigenous Soundwaves is ever so slightly lacking in the area of surprise; if you have heard either artist previously then you may know exactly what to expect. On the other hand, if you haven’t, you might be positively startled by how flavoursome UK Soul and Hip-Hop can be when it puts its mind to it. Overall a promising and ambitious debut.